How long did I lay in that water. I feel invigorated or I have hypothermia-not sure which. I stand dripping in the darkness trying to get my eyes to adjust, to see more but they are sore-itchy from the salt. I feel stupid. I smell better.
I pull the boat higher up. I can hear it scrunch on the pebbles and I can feel that there was a line of plastic of all kinds at the shore line. The beach is probably littered with it. I still can’t see where the beach ends and the land starts. It could be 10 feet, it could be a mile. I smell the air. Lavender on the wind. Lavender is good-you can eat that. Not much of it but you can eat it.
I am desperate for sleep. My whole body hurts and all that is keeping me focussed is the cold. I listen. I squint into the darkness. The boat is noisy on the sand, the plastic parting as I pull it, noisy as well. This was not how I planned it. The beach ahead seems darker somehow, as if there was something there. I walk into a bramble. Ouch. I think it but I don’t say it. I listen, still again as if something could hear my pain and not just the mild exhalation that followed it
It hurts but here is the line of the land. A bramble. In the darkness then I can see them, skirting the line of the beach. A stroke of luck. In the darkness I bend down and run my hand through the sand. I thought maybe there’d be dirt but the roots of the brambles must be well back. The sand feels- I don’t know, maybe damp, maybe cold. In any event brambles are a stroke of luck.
I take all my belongings out of the boat and stick them on the sand above the water line. I get out my gloves and roll down my sleeves. I stick a scarf around my face and I bend down and push the boat into the brambles. I push as hard as I can, forcing it prow first to make a passage. I can hear the noise of the brambles moving, breaking but I don’t care. I keep shoving it in and then when I can only just see the end of it, I shove the oars in underneath it. It would make a great sleeping spot, to sleep protected underneath, but it would also be the most obvious.
I get my pack and my bag and wrap myself in the duvet. I walk along another 10 metres or so from the boat. I can see the brambles in the darkness now. I don’t want this really but it makes sense. I lay down and put my bag at the head of me. I push it into the brambles and then crawled in wrapped in the duvet after it. I push some more, and then some more until I am well inside the bramble patch. The duvet gives me some protection from the prickles and its true I could be seen if anyone looked but I hoped I look like rubbish, an old duvet trapped in the bushes. I hope the brambles at the front on the shore line will fall to cover me. I lie there in the brambles in the duvet in the darkness and sleep and sleep and sleep.
I wake without knowing if it was night or day. It’s simply dark in the bramble patch and I think I am awake because of the heaviness. Somewhere above me something is on top of the brambles. It’s hard to know what, think what. They shudder above me occasionally. I think maybe it’s an animal but it isn’t regular or noisy and there is no smell wafting down to me. It is more like something has been laid across the top of them.
I have two choices, to go on through the bramble patch or to turn around and go back out the way I came in. It is tempting to go on but who knows how far this bramble patch extends. And the boat is behind me. I don’t know how useful it will be or if I could even carry it any distance but I immediately regret not taking the time to hide it better.
I take a moment to eat the last of my bread. I am going to have to tunnel to the end of the brambles or go back. To go back I have to turn around. There’s a wind, I can feel the wind and whatever is above me is unsettled by it. Perhaps it is waiting for me. I am going back the way I came. Who knows how far the brambles go. I try shuffling backwards with the duvet wrapped around me but my ankles get exposed and scratched. I need to protect my head. I think this was a stupid idea as I try and turn the other way so I am facing forward to get out. All the time every movement I do is letting whatever is above me know I am here. I roll onto my side and curl into a ball trying to turn in the very small space I have. I need to take my bag with me as well. The duvet seems hopelessly caught on the brambles and my turning has made it worse. I give up on it. It has served me will but it isn’t coming with me.
I am facing out now and I can see I haven’t tunnelled as far in as I thought. I am not as safe as I thought and perhaps whatever is weighing above me is simply waiting. I push forward and now it is only my clothes protecting me. Thorns are raking down my back but there is nothing I can do. I look back and in the darkness the dull white of the duvet hangs there-shredded. There is nothing I can do. I have a blanket somewhere and that will have to suffice.
I can smell my own blood which means anything else can as well. I need to come out of the space at the end ready to fight. Only the barbs grip my skins.
I roll painfully onto the beach expecting something to pounce. Then I laugh, snow. It has snowed and the snow lays heavy on the brambles. There is nothing and no one here. I can see the boat and the vast sea and the myriad pieces of plastic on the beach . I can see bright plastic pearls lapping in the waves. I stand up and look around. There is no one here.
There is just a huge pile of brambles to cross, my bleeding back and a lot of snow.
I don’t waste anytime. I remember now. I begin to dismantle the boat, boats are so precious when your planet is flooded. But this will give me firewood as I head south. I am not sure if it is winter or if it is just that I am further north than I thought. I set about dismantling the boat as quickly as I can, keeping all the screws and rivets and all the bits. I will drag them like on a sleigh. I might even use it to build something to cross the brambles, with the snow and the brambles and the boards I might even cross them by nightfall.